Written by : Br. Pepe Villarreal OFMCap.

What seemed to be a small problem located far away, has turned into the need for us to be locked up for more than a month, a serious limit to social interaction and the slowing down of the economic activity in so many parts of the world… Not to mention the fear to fall ill and to die due to this new sickness… We are facing a true global crisis.

Every crisis has two aspects: One of them is the painful facing of our own limits; the other one is the opportunity of getting out from it becoming stronger and more mature.

Many among us are attentive to the mass media in order to be informed about the latest news on the virus and its behavior and about the recommendations of the authorities, which we try to follow as good as we can. Staying at home, being cautious when we do need to go out, avoiding physical contact, using antibacterial gel, etc. but… What happens with the people who cannot do these things? What happens with the ones for whom taking precautions with the virus is something they cannot afford?

Just like in other problems that exist in our society, the poorest are the ones who suffer the most. Let’s look at this fragment of Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, “Laudato Si’” :

“It needs to be said that, generally speaking, there is little in the way of clear awareness of problems which especially affect the excluded. Yet they are the majority of the planet’s population, billions of people. These days, they are mentioned in international political and economic discussions, but one often has the impression that their problems are brought up as an afterthought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treated merely as collateral damage. Indeed, when all is said and done, they frequently remain at the bottom of the pile. This is due partly to the fact that many professionals, opinion makers, communications media and centres of power, being located in affluent urban areas, are far removed from the poor, with little direct contact with their problems. They live and reason from the comfortable position of a high level of development and a quality of life well beyond the reach of the majority of the world’s population. This lack of physical contact and encounter, encouraged at times by the disintegration of our cities, can lead to a numbing of conscience and to tendentious analyses which neglect parts of reality.” (Laudato Si, N. 49)

The people who have a good economic position will be able to get out of this crisis, but those who don’t, will have to take more risks of falling sick and if they survive, they will turn out to be even poorer than before. There are thousands of people who cannot have something to eat if they do not go out to work everyday.

The solution to the social and economic problems might not be in our hands, but something we can do is being more generous and charitable. During this times, actions of charity are worth double. The health crisis leads to an economic crisis, which leads to a human crisis (Hunger, violence, injustice…). We can avoid that last one.

The maturity and strength that we want as a result of this crisis will not be in our immune system, nor in our minds, nor in our economy; it should be in the size of our hearts. May this crisis help us have a heart that is bigger, more human, more brotherly, more willing to know about the other’s situation and offering them a hand.

May the Lord grant us his peace.

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